Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Mercedes Talma - Queen of Coins

In a few days, I'll be posting Ep 28 of the podcast about the life of Mercedes Talma. But I wanted to feature some photos that I found of her. When she was appearing in the Monarchs of Magic with her husband and with Bosco, she often found her photo included with the write-up. The above image is quite provocative for the time. I believe this is the costume she wore for the NERO routine, where she changed from woman to a LION!

This next image is just adorable. Mercedes Talma was without a doubt a photogenic woman, the camera loved her. And she apparently had quite a number of promotional photos taken during her career. There are of course her typical photos holding coins which were featured during her initial Queen of Coins days.

But later, she would have more elegant images, like the one to the right. And on occasion more alluring images like the one above.

I think one of my favorite images of Mercedes Talma is the last one below.  She was beautiful, there is no question about that. But she was also highly skilled, as many reviews made a point of mentioning her skills with coins. And you know she had to be an excellent 'box jumper' for the simple reason that it is never mentioned. I'm not joking. Her performance were no doubt flawless and so stunned audiences that the skill she needed to present each of these various effects was hidden by the audience. Rather she made them look like real magic.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Carnegie The Magic Detective On The Radio

A couple weeks ago John Michael Marty of WSMI Radio out of Illinois interviewed me for his radio show. John and I were introduced through our mutual friend Steve Baker, known professionally as Mr. Escape. John contacted me about doing an interview where we would talk about Steve, and magic history, Houdini and my own professional performing career. We were supposed to do a 20 minute spot, but I think we ran around 45 minutes (including commercials). It was a fun interview and I thought you might like to listen to it.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Germain's Water Jars

In my quest to finish my podcast on Germain the Wizard, I failed to include one rather significant routine. That routine is Germain's Egyptian Water Jars. It's a very unusual routine, and a very difficult routine. It's been said that only Germain was able to 'pull the magic' out of it*.  What was this mystery?

Stuart Cramer in his book, Germain the Wizard & His Legerdermain, says that this was the trick Germain was best known for, but also the one effect that Germain disliked the most. Where the inspiration for the trick came from is not recorded. If I might speculate however, in 1906, Germain was in England and was known to spend many off hours sight seeing and visiting museums. Of special interest to him were the Egyptian collections. Perhaps seeing items from one of these collections led him to the idea.  He also had another Egyptian effect in the show, Rhadama, The Bride of the Nile, which involved a mummy and a sarcophagus. The mummy comes to life and dances around and then returns to the sarcophagus where it is seen to almost instantly turn back into the wrapped mummy.  In 1918, Germain put this illusion up for sale and I do not know it's whereabouts today.

As for the Egyptian Water Jars. Here is the effect: Six Large Nickel plated Jars are shown to be empty and placed upside down on a thin table made of glass. Then one at a time, each jar fills with water, which is poured into an aquarium or tub. In the case of the tub, it would later be picked up and turned over to show the water had changed to confetti.

In 1909, an unauthorized version of the trick hit the market. In 1910, Germain loaned his set of Jars to Martinka so that they could produce them and sell them officially. This was a rarity to Germain, as he was usually very guarded with this methods and secrets. In truth, he was guarded here too because he didn't  give Martinka the full 'work' on the Egyptian Water Jars. As with much magic, there is more  here than the audience knows and together an incredible illusion was created.

I mentioned earlier that 'no magician had been able to pull any magic' out of the Water Jars, other than Germain. That is not exactly true. Many years after Germain died, David Ben was creating a show called simply, The Conjurer. Among the mysteries to be presented was the Germain Water Jars. As it turns out, David Ben, borrowed a set of Water Jars from Jay Marshall and had them reproduced. The Jars that Marshall had were one of the rare Martinka sets. But I have no doubt that David Ben was able to pull the magic from this wonderful prop and present a truly fantastic mystery.

If you'd like to learn more about Karl Germain and his incredible magic, please check out my podcast #25 on the life of Germain the Wizard.